Towson prepares for finals; Students look for ways to “Study Smarter, Not Harder”

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By KJ Heslen, Contributing Writer

Photo Courtesy of Cook Library

As the semester comes to a close and finals season approaches, students start to hit the books to cram in the last bit of information they need to pass their classes.

Heidi Carlson, a graduate assistant in Cook Library, led an online seminar Thursday to help students learn about ways to “Study Smarter, Not Harder.” The seminar went over tips and tricks to make studying easier, including techniques like allotting time to study, making study agendas, and taking enough breaks as pieces of a successful study regimen.

According to Carlson, where you study matters.

“Your study area should be available to you whenever you need it,” she said. “It should be free from distractions and interruptions.”

She also suggested having enough room to spread out and get organized. Taking personal comfort into consideration is important, and Carlson advised students to ensure they have enough light and a comfortable chair.

Carlson said that consistency is key in making studying a regular part of a daily routine. The best way to study is going to be what works for you.

“It is important to choose study times and days when you’re likely to feel energetic,” Carlson said.

According to  Carlson, 60 minutes of study during the day is equivalent to around 90 minutes of studying at night.

Cramming for something the night before has been proven not to work, so make the most of the daylight hours.

“I try to study in small increments because cramming doesn’t really help me,” said freshman and integrated elementary and special education major Julia Roush. “I study as soon as my classes end instead of waiting until the weekend. I make a big to do list and prioritize to make sure the right stuff is completed”

Taking breaks is also important. For every 50 minutes spent studying, Carlson said,  there should be a 10 minute break for getting up and walking around, getting a snack and some water and giving yourself a brain break.

Carlson also described the differences between passive and active learning. Passive learning includes things such as reading, listening, observing, seeing and hearing. These are things that do not really involve the student in the learning process.

Most of the time, students are learning passively; they sit in class and are not engaged directly in the learning process.

Active learning, however, includes speaking, group discussion and reciting things aloud. These methods of studying engage the brain and are scientifically proven as a better study method.

Freshman and geography major Bradley Crissman, said that he tries to relate to the different concepts he learns in class to help him better learn the material.

“When I think of one concept, I can connect it to something different, eventually making me remember multiple things in a kind of domino effect,” Crissman said.

For more information, Carlson suggested that students use LASSI (Learning and Study Strategies Inventory), a test that can be taken to help determine students’ awareness about and use of various learning and study strategies.

Carlson also recommended www.goconqr.com, which has a variety of online study tools, and www.hippocampus.org which has study tools specifically for visual learners.

There are also resources available to students on campus, including the Tutoring and Learning Center, the Writing Center and the Public Communications Center.

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